The Growing Sucralose Infestation

Whatever happened to the good old days when you could glance quickly through the beverage aisle and tell the diet beverages from the good beverages? We’ve had such a great system for so long: if it says “diet” or “sugar free” it’s DIET, and if it doesn’t, it has some form of super tasty sugar derivative in it, whether it be cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or something else awesome.

I used to be so good at telling the two drinks apart.

Lately, however, I’ve found myself repeatedly hoodwinked by the chemically synthesized impostor known as sucralose… or “Splenda”, its Christian name. The substance is 600 times sweeter than table sugar, and although it’s not as bad as saccharin, aspartame, or any other past cancer-powder, it’s still not sugar, and it still tastes like crap.

As such, I humbly request of beverage companies that you please quit trying to be sly about these DIET drinks and label them just as previous DIET drinks were labeled: with the letters D.I.E.T.

When I see those letters, I know that purchase of the beverage in question will result in palate-shriveling aftertaste and lack of drinking satisfaction. When I see those letters, I know to move right along.

Instead, however, these sucralose-tainted drinks often use small, subtle terms like “lower sugar”, “lower calorie”, and sometimes no marquee labeling at all. This is confusing as there are plenty of legitimate “lower sugar” drinks on the market that simply removed some of the sugar (see Paul Newman’s Lightly Sweetened Lemonade). Often times, you need to read the entire label to know the difference. And to make matters worse, a lot of these drinks contain sugar near the top of the ingredient list and sucralose near the end… so it’s not even sufficient to just “look for the sugar” anymore.

“Noni Berry” for metabolism and “Goji Punch” for immunity. Can you tell which one is the diet one?

To be clear, I have nothing against sucralose itself. It could very well be the best artificial sweetener ever invented. I just resent that marketers, by not clearly labeling it, have blurred the representation of what is and what isn’t a diet drink; and as a front-line soldier in the weekly quest to discover and sample new beverages, I’m just sick of getting hit by all this repackaged, remarketed diet shrapnel.

UPDATE: Literally the very nanosecond I pressed the Publish button just now, a Splenda television commercial came on. It’s everywhere.

58 comments on “The Growing Sucralose Infestation”. Leave your own?
  1. Colin says:

    I quite like Coke Zero, which I assume is sweetened with sucralose (should it be called sacrifose?) Most of the time I steer clear of anything sugary, cane sugar, high fructose corn poison or cancer-powder otherwise.

    Water, milk, and unsweetened tea is about all I try to touch. Well, beer and liquor too :)

  2. Trevor says:

    Stick to Xylitol or just avoid drinks that aren’t Organic. Eating
    processed carbohydrates (white bread, bleached flour or sugar, etc.)
    is like throwing paper on a fire. It burns for a second and then
    leaves you with no fire.

  3. […] tyckte däremot att Mike Davidsson skriver sjukt roligt om fenomenet och hur svÃ¥rt det börjar bli att skilja light-produkterna frÃ¥n de “riktiga”. As […]

  4. Jerry says:

    Another vote for unsweetened tea.

  5. Joe says:

    The worst is that they sneak the sucralose crap into KIDS’ stuff. Not just drinks, either. I’ve actually seen FRUIT sweetened with Splenda. Your choices are now: peaches in syrup, peaches in water, or peaches in a Splenda-based solution.

    We don’t think giving our kids chemicals is probably a good idea, so we’re very cautious and read the labels. But it pisses me off for all the kids whose parents aren’t as watchful. Hell, my kids still get it from their grandparents when we’re not looking. It’s too difficult NOT to buy Splenda-infused crap.

  6. Josh Byers says:

    All I have to say is that Coke Zero is the bomb.

    I lost 30 lbs when I switched from the regular stuff and can still have my sweet (but not too sweet) can (or cans) of refreshing goodness.

    Splenda is our gift to nature.

  7. Great article.

    @Colin: Coke Zero contains aspartame, not sucralose. I like its flavor better than Diet Coke but it still has a metallic aftertaste, in my opinion.

  8. Bill Brown says:

    “We don’t think giving our kids chemicals is probably a good idea, so we’re very cautious and read the labels. But it pisses me off for all the kids whose parents aren’t as watchful.”

    If they care as much as you do, then they’ll be just as watchful. If they’re not “as watchful” then they don’t care. See how that works?

  9. As a person who is allergic to corn syrup: I want real soda made with real sugar, preferably beet sugar. Corn Syrup has been linked to an increase in diabetes in the American population as well. Bring back the real stuff, get rid of the diet, get rid of the corn, and give us wholesome, tooth decaying, calorie bringing sugar.

  10. Chris Luebbe says:

    Diet Coke Plus doesn’t have the aftertaste of Coke Zero. If you really want sucralose, there is Diet Coke w/Splenda.

  11. Haha,

    I love this post. In fact, I love your blog!

    I personally love diet drinks. Sugar? What’s that? I mean, I could fall into a sugar coma if I just had one sip!

    The conditioned human of the future will no longer know what sugar is. We will effectivly consume our caloric needs via pills.


  12. Dave F says:

    Would you like a frosty glass of corn with that?

    Corn is for feeding livestock or corn on the cob or making tortilla’s… not for a refreshing beverage.

    Amazing the difference real sugar makes… you forget after years of corn syrup invading everything…

    Here in NC, I get Boylan’s Sodas made with Sugar Cane… they taste like all soda did prior to the switch to Corn Syrup in the 80s. Boylan’s Cane Cola rules.

    For any one else wanting to avoid Corn Syrup, you can also check your local Mexican grocery store for ‘imported’ Mexican Coca-Cola… as Coca-Cola bottled in Mexico still uses sugar cane… as does Europe.

    and word on the artificial stuff… can’t do them either…

  13. I couldn’t agree more! In fact, as Dave F says, you can take this a step further and try to get real sugar as opposed to corn-based sucrose.

    I’ve been buying Coke form Mexico from Costco lately. I’ve done blind taste tests and pretty much everyone likes the sugar based coke better.

    If the only drinks available are artificial, I’ll take water.

  14. Jemaleddin says:

    This post, shorter:

    Dear Advertisers, your packaging is making me buy things I don’t want. Please change the packaging. Love, Mike.

    Dear Mike, No. Love, Advertisers.

  15. Jason says:

    Couldn’t agree more!

  16. Mike D. says:

    Trevor: Wow, glad to see there is an official anti-Splenda contingent! Good links.

    Joe: That is terrible. Splenda in canned peach syrup? Yet another example of someone we could previously count on that we no longer can. No pun intended. :)

    Andrew: Interesting link to the video about the lawsuit. I wonder what the precise angle of the lawsuit is. My personal problem is not what Splenda claims it’s made of but rather that they don’t make it obvious you’re actually buying it… and that, to me, seems like the beverage companies’ faults. Although it *is* strange they all seem to be in on it. I wonder if something about the way Splenda markets itself (e.g. that it’s “natural”) actually gives the beverage companies implicit or explicit license to do this. Very interesting.

    Bill Brown: While you’re correct in that people should ideally always read every label, especially for things they may feed to their kids, the problem here is that expectations which were always true in the past are no longer true because of this marketing. It is a fact that ten years ago, you could blindfold yourself and grab any old can of peaches at any grocery store and know you were getting basically the same thing. Because of Splenda, this is no longer the case. The word “infestation” in the title really does apply here. It’s just *creeping* into our lives slowly, surely, and discreetly, and thus many of us miss that we must actually look for it in things we would have never thought to look for it in. Like peaches.

    Cane Sugar fans: Yep, that stuff is good. Love the mexican Coke!

  17. Jim Ray says:

    “… high-fructose corn syrup, or something else awesome.”

    I know that this is just your sly sense of humor, Mike, but high-fructose corn syrup is pretty vile stuff. And not just for you the consumer, but for what’s required to feed the American appetite for cheap sweetener. Most of the corn grown in this country, in fact, ends up either as feed for cattle or as the highly refined, wholly unnatural (one of the ingredients used in the production of corn syrup is hydrocholoric acid) sugar of choice in this country. Add King Corn to your Netflix queue to learn more.

    What’s worse is that, unlike sucralose, corn syrup actually is in *everything*. It’s the chief ingredient of the usual suspects like soda, of course, but it’s also in bread, cereal, pasta, McDonald’s hamburgers (yes, after gorging those cheap cattle on grain, they actually use corn syrup in the patty!), juice, virtually all snacks. It’s everywhere.

    A while ago, I went on an anti-partially hydrogenated soybean oil jihad, basically completely eliminating it from my diet. The next to go for me is corn syrup. Join me, brother.

  18. John A. Davis says:

    Splenda is the only one that has come with no negative laboratory results. And that includes Stevia. Funny everyone here is an expert but they haven’t even mentioned Stevia.

  19. John Wise says:

    John, I *did* mention stevia in a previous comment, which doesn’t seem to have made an appearance on here. Stevia’s been in widespread use around the world as a food additive for decades, rather than as a supplement that you have to add yourself as we have here. Coke is working with another company to produce a less-bitter version of stevia for use as an FDA-approved additive, and hopes to have it available in their products and as a standalone product sometime next year.

    You can pick stevia up at your local health food or natural supermarket, as well as on the Internet. Sweet Leaf even has flavored varieties, but I haven’t tried any of them as of yet.

  20. Bill Brown says:

    All I was saying is that people who are concerned about what goes into their children’s body read every label and always have. If they don’t (or didn’t), then ipso facto they are not concerned. Joe needn’t worry for other parents by presuming that they’re less cautious than he.

  21. Beth says:

    I’m more concerned with HFC (high fructose corn syrup).

    “Chi-Tang Ho et al. found that soft drinks sweetened with HFCS are up to 10 times richer in harmful carbonyl compounds, such as methylglyoxal, than a diet soft drink control.[24] Carbonyl compounds are elevated in people with diabetes and are blamed for causing diabetic complications such as foot ulcers and eye and nerve damage;[25][26] there was no such link found in table sugar.” – Wikipedia

    Oo and there is more. Take a look at the health effects on Wikipedia – it is downright scary.

    I’ll take a diet over the real stuff any day.

  22. a Chris says:

    Absolutely! It’s a matter of reading the entire ingredient list here in the UK too. Imagine my disappointment when after a sip of Schweppes “Original” Lemonade (lemon-flavoured pop like Sprite; not lemonade IMO but I was prepared for that) the corners of my mouth were awash with the unpleasant taste of ASPARTAME! I feel as though I’m being tricked into buying things I don’t want, which doesn’t engender brand loyalty.

    I’m not keen on corn syrup either, as a substitute for sugar.

  23. J Forrest says:

    I’m not a soft drink person as it has always seemed like a waste of money and always too sweet – even back when sugar was used. And… I experience physical illness within an hour of even two sips of artificial sweetner stuff. I totally agree with the packaging/labeling issue of sucralose. Today, I decided to add a little travel package of Wylers lemonade to my water bottle at work. I chose this brand because it didn’t say “sugar free”. I’m in a meeting and the symptoms, that I always get when I inadvertantly eat sugar substitutes, began in earnest – hot then cold, all over nausea, hands shaking. Rather alarmed, the lemonade was about the only thing I had consumed except for coffee and milk/shredded wheat. I ran home and read the label, and there it was – Sucralose! I agree with the writer who saw “sugar” at the top of the ingredient list and figured that was the only sweetner. That is nasty stuff and it may become as pervasive as HFCS

  24. James S says:

    Hilarious post. “…or something else awesome.”

    @ Jim Ray – agree! Omnivore’s Dilemma

    What is also awesome is the mass explosion of cane / beet sugar drinks on the market in the last 5 years. Corn syrup tastes awesome, like a McDonald’s cheeseburger, but it’s also about as good for you. Cane sugar is much cleaner.

    Can you believe they still sell TAB? I think that’s also kind of awesome. I hate the stuff but I like to know the 70’s still live on in aisle 12B at Safeway…

  25. Jeff says:

    I talked to a pharmacist once – he said Nutrasweet is bad stuff. After reading this post, I am looking at the labels a little more closely. It is amazing the crap we put into our bodies.

  26. Smaran says:

    I’m glad one can still easily tell Diet Coke and standard Coke apart, although Diet has become more widely available here in India of late.

  27. Ravi Khalsa says:

    I have no ax to grind here, but found this website:
    There are links at the very end of the (copious) writing.

  28. Alan Hogan says:

    What makes these stealthy sucralose-sweetened foods and drinks even more appalling is that, not only is “sucralose” a sugar-sounding word like fructose and glucose, but that it can cause horrible reactions in some people. A very close friend of mine who I’ll keep anonymous had the most horrible reaction to Splenda just two months ago and I’m glad they’re still alive!

  29. Court says:

    “Evaporated Cane Juice” is the biggest BS line i see in ingredient lists these days. Its the definition of sugar. So-called health food companies like Kashi and others abuse it as much as they can. It causes diabetes just as easily as sugar, because it is sugar.

  30. Josh Stodola says:

    I prefer my sugars to be converted to alcohol via yeast. Hooray beer!

  31. […] like San Pellegrino or Perrier, is available in plain or lightly flavored, and contains no sugar, sucralose, or other sweeteners. Its caffeine comes naturally from guarana berries and it also contains 120% […]

  32. Marco says:

    I prefer ‘the devil you know’ over chemical compounds that haven’t made it through with the FDA multiple times and then finally mysteriously made it through anyway to be honest.

    I try to steer well away from any kind of artificial sweeteners as much as I can because I really don’t trust the corporations that make them. And there’s always the alternative of just NOT using sugar at all which is probably healthier as well.

  33. Brian Pierce says:

    I feel exactly the same way, and have said it for years. People who drink diet drinks and claim they taste “good” should not be allowed to vote, whether for American Idol or City Council, because they are clearly not in distinguishable possession of the trait commonly known as TASTE.
    And now “Big-Beverage” is trying to trick “semi” health-conscious consumers into drinking their disgusting chemical cocktails by using “low calorie” and “low sugar” instead of DIET, just as you mentioned. I’ve been livid over this for years. Two of the chief offenders are Fresca and Tab Energy Drink. People who drink Fresca and can’t tell that it’s poisoned with unpallatable chemical filth that attempts to sneak into their mouth as windex in sugar’s clothing don’t have so much a tongue as they do a pink, wet sock that rolls up into their mouth.

    As briefly mentioned in other comments, Stevia is clearly the way to go. A sweetener that’s actually GOOD for you? And it genuinely does taste good, i use it daily.

  34. Dreama says:

    I was wondering if anyone out there has a reaction to sucralose? I do agree it makes drinks taste bad but I often don’t notice until the side of my face goes numb and I feel like a zombie. The other night I was drinking what I thought was an innocent cup of hot chocolate and I thought it tasted funny but not enough to stop drinking it. Later, there went the crazy feeling. I went to check the ingredients and there it was, just like you said, sugar at the top, sucralose at the bottom!! They really should be required to label that stuff.

  35. Stacy says:

    I’m very very sensitive to the taste if sucralose and can immediately tell a drink with sucralose in it by the slightest sip. My tounge hasn’t failed me yet. Even more disturbing is the fact that, to me, it tastes very bad and leaves an after taste in my mouth that is pretty icky. I hate sucralose and refuse to drink anything with it, it makes me feel ill afterwards, and I’m appaled that nobody labels anything. Even simple kids drinks like Caprisun which used to be one of my favorites for a quick on the go refreshment is now made with nasty tastinf sucralose.

  36. Masowai says:


    Dude you are so are the money with all of this. Why the f don’t they LABEL IT DIET IF IT IS DIET! SOFB. I get so f’ing mad when I have to search through the ingredients of every item at the store that might contain sucralose. I have to be SOOOO careful these days because they try to sneak it in there.

    Has anyone ever drunk a bottle of juice or eaten a sweet and then slowly realized (with that sickening feeling) that you might be ingesting sucralose. AHA! Fooled again. They gotcha again! This happened to me a few years ago when I drank FUZE for the first time. It tasted great at first, but then I started to feel ill. I had no idea why. I thought, “Maybe this is diet juice and I TOTALLY failed to read the label.” Nope. It said SUGAR. And at the bottom sucralose. This was the day that sucralose and I were introduced. I have despised him ever since.

  37. Masowai says:

    Another thing…let’s say that someone printed up 10,000 stickers with the message “WARNING: CONTAINS SUCRALOSE” and freely distributed them. At the supermarket, the anti-sucralose movement could place these stickers on all of their favorite foods that have now been contaminated with sucralose. Thereby informing (or warning) the public that the product contains this toxic substance. Ideally, the type of adhesive used would make the removal of the sticker next to impossible. I think I’m going to single-handedly spearhead the movement.

  38. Jennifer says:

    I, too am sick of having to read every ingredient on every label looking for that dreaded word. About an hour after ingesting any, I get a persistent bad taste in my mouth which stays with me for about 8 hours. Nothing I have tried will get rid of it. Of course that makes me wonder what else is happening in my body I might not like if I knew. Let’s just say it doesn’t surprise me that other people are having trouble. And I’ll bet some of those folks who don’t think Sucralose gives them any ill effects might just not have made the connection yet. I dilute regular sodas with 50% water to make my own “less sugar” varieties. I did get caught on some Emerald Roast chocolate Almonds, though. They were delicious. About an hour after eating them, however, I was not so excited. Sure enough–Sucralose! Should’ve looked at the label :-(

  39. Sue says:

    I’ve noticed a lot of companies are now doing this. Not just drinks anymore. I got some Yoplait low fat yogurt, and it has sucralose in it, yuck! FiberOne Honey Clusters has it in it as well, double yuck. At least have it in bigger writing or something, for those of us who don’t like the taste can avoid it, those who like it can be happy.

  40. Jess says:

    I am a super-taster who is very sensitive to taste. I usually can’t handle tap-water because of the chemicals and metal I can taste. And now I’m sick of taking a sip of what is supposed to be yummy only to find a horrible horrible taste. Look through the ingredients and surely I find the dreaded words – sucralose. It’s everywhere: many drinks, orange juice, canned fruit, and even pickles yuck! Make drinks clearly state if they are diet, I’m sick of that surprise taste showing up when I least expect it. One sip is all it takes and I’m quickly looking through the ingredients.

  41. Jason says:

    I’ve noticed this too. I like to have a canned coffee now and then, or juice, or one of my kid’s Capri Sun. Anything with Sucralose gives me this nasty taste and weird… ‘Glaaaaahg-feeling’in my throat for hours, with just one sip. It used to be easy to avoid, Diet=No-thanks. But like everyone here has noted, it is everywhere. I liked the Moster Coffee drinks. No more, now every variety I can pull off the shelf has sucralose in it.

    I guess this is one way to get me off of just about every type of soft drink out there.


  42. I found out Nestle’s Hot Cocoa mix has it now. My friend gave me a box and for the first time I was able to taste the sucralose. When I drank just a sip I thought it tasted funny and sure enough it is in the cocoa. This is another product that is not labeled as sugarless or fat free or anything like that. Yes, I agree with previous posters. I think I will have to start making my own beverages. This is ridiculous.

  43. Jennifer says:

    Is there anyone out there who can enlighten us as to why Sucralose is such an attractive ingredient to all these manufacturers? There must be a reason it is appearing in everything. This never happened with the other diet sugars!

  44. My theory is that sucralose is a cheaper alternative to sugar. It is being used in products along with corn syrup which reduces the calories of the product. So for people looking for low calorie foods will choose these products. Plus if the price is lower then the manufacturer will also be saving money. I have only researched this on a very small level so I could be wrong, but I think it is something to look into.

  45. Cynthia says:

    Seeing a few comments where people added Stevia as a natural sweetener, I have this to say: There have been some studies showing that stuff lowers sperm count. So why support that when Splenda has had overall good studies? No health problems from it during the studies! The people who get “a rash” from it are in the miniscule minority. Not to mention they weren’t in any controlled study so who knows if it was actually the sucralose or something else that happened by coincidence at the same time.

  46. Kelly says:

    I’m so relieved to see at least one person saying this. Its SO frustrating to bring home rpoducts from teh grocery store and have to throw them away once I taste them. The latest abomination? Emerald Almonds (cocoa and cinnamon dusted) have Sucralose on them! Yuck! I tasted it the second I put one in my mouth. Why ruin a perfectly healthy snack?

    I also think the manufacturers must be believing the party line that sucralose tastes just like sugar so they think they can just throw it in an no one will notice. It sure doesn’t to me. I wonder how many people out there get the chemically taste that I do?

  47. BarbWire says:

    I decided years ago that Splenda sucked, sucralose sucked, all artificial sweetners sucked, and like the OP I was able to avoid them with a quick glance at the package label. But it has become almost impossible to avoid the shit. In the past week I have been suckered by the Emerald Almonds, Quaker High-Fiber Instant Oatmeal, Snackwells cereal bars and Cafe Escapes Dark Chocolate cocoa. I’ve tossed the nuts, oatmeal, snack bars and cocoa after the first bite or sip and the aftertaste was still with me hours later. I do not have time to read every damned ingredient in every damned label. THIS HAS GOT TO STOP.

  48. Cameron says:

    It’s not Mid-2012, and the problem continues to grow! Wal-Mart Cola (not DIET -just Cola) now has sucralose. My wife just bought a gallon of Hawaiian Punch… You guessed it sucralose… I can taste it IMMEDIATELY. We should start a nationwide boycott of all things with sucralose (presuming we can find or compile a list of products) and buy cane or beet sugar to sweeten our drinks at home. Simultaneously send a petition with 30M signatures to the FDA demanding accurate labeling.

  49. andy says:

    It’s now early 2013 and the problem is growing. Even hot chocolate mix (nestle, swiss miss) have sucralose in their regular products. Ugh.

  50. Randi says:

    I hadn’t had lipton’s brisk tea in a while and saw it in the store and realllly wanted some so I bought it. On the first sip something was off… I turned it around and it only has 80 calories in the can. I knew that didn’t sound right so I checked the ingredients. Sure enough, there’s sucralose in it! Lovely stomach pains followed.

  51. Randi says:

    I’ve had the same problem with the Emerald cocoa almonds and some kettle corn popcorn. I KNOW they used to make the kettle corn without sucralose… now you cannot find even ONE brand that doesn’t have it.
    Also I think a lot of people missed the point of the original post. The posts about how real sugar and high fructose corn syrup are unhealthy are aren’t relevant. We want our normal foods and beverages not to have artificial sweeteners in them. If they have fake sugar they should be labeled as diet or light on the FRONT of the package.

  52. Russ says:

    I suffer from short bowel syndrome and cannot consume much sugar. I started using splenda (small amounts) and ended up in the hospital with all sort of SERIOUS intestinal problems, then broke out in a rash all over my body. The docs didn’t know what was wrong, but when I discontinued use of sucralose things got better immediately. I sure hate paying the hospital bills associated with it. It’s poison for your body… don’t consume it!

  53. Here we are in 2016 and after finding this blog now I know I’m not going crazy. Even my beloved Nestlé Quik I quit buying LONG ago because it now contains sucralose. The artificial sweeteners really make me ill. I thought maybe that was all in my head too until I consumed sucralose without knowing it because it was listed at the bottom as everyone else is saying here. Did you all know that the body doesn’t recognize it as food and it passes on out as waste thru our urine and is possibly a threat to the environment now? It sticks on the rocks at the waterlines of the waste processing facilities but researchers say that they “need to study the effects for about 15 years before they know.” You can google ” sucralose impact on the environment” and find loads of info on this.

  54. TommyD says:

    Mid-2017 and I came here looking up articles on sucralose. Infested is a great word for it. Faygo, a michigan based soft drink company, used to be one of my favorite brands. They’ve switched to sucralose. Such a disappointment. They lost us as customers. Getting harder and harder to find products w/out it. It’s getting to where as soon as I eat or drink a previously loved food, and it tastes off, I don’t even have to look at the label. I know it’s another food, or drink, that’s been ruined thanks to sucralose. Add it to the list of things we don’t buy anymore

  55. Steve says:

    I am one of the few blessed with having surcralose taste like crap, it is a major blessing because I am also allergic to the garbage.
    You would be surprised how many things it is in, it is horrid. Fruit drinks (not diet, not low calorie, not low sugar, just plain old fruit drinks) or even things like Icees.

    Really it sucks spending so much time reading through ingredients, I hate being allergic. Luckily, if I miss it or I get something at a restaurant with it, I know instantly, and usually only have some scratchy throat or such.

    I am all about science, but fake sugar has not ended well in the past, it can’t end well in the future.

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